Russian

Language History


The 10th century saw the development of three Slavonic language groups – Western, Southern and Eastern. Eastern Slavonic soon developed into what we know today as Ukrainian, Belorussian and Russian.


The three language groups used one common written language – Old Church Slavonic. It was in the 9th century when the Cyrillic alphabet was introduced by missionaries, Cyril and Methodius.


In Russia, Old Church Slavonic was the official written language until the 18th century when a new written language developed based on the educated spoken norm. The three language styles, High Style, Middle Style and Low Style were introduced by the famous M. V. Lomonosov. With features of East and Church Slavonic, the Middle Style is in fact what helped form the foundations of the modern standard language. It was in the 19th century when Standard Russian, based on the Moscow dialect became the official language.

Russian is the largest and most spoken Slavic language and it is the 8th most popular language in the world. There are approximately 170 million native speakers while another 113 million speak it as a second language.


It is spoken in countries including Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan and it is considered an unofficial lingua franca in countries including Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Estonia, Georgia, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

FACT

Belarus, Kazakhstan, Russia, and Ukraine all use the same Russian written language so there would be no need to hire separate translators for each! However, these Russian-speaking countries may have different pronunciations of the language.

Did you Know?

The Cyrillic alphabet is very similar to the Greek alphabet but with around a dozen extra letters to represent Slavic sounds that the Greek language does not have.

Over 850,000 Americans speak Russian!

• Keep in mind that the letter ‘w’ only appears in foreign words within the language.

• Look out for false cognates – “attendre” doesn’t mean “attend”, it means “to wait”.

• Make sure you have full comprehension of the accents, genders, verb conjugation

and pronunciation of nasal sounds.

• Get used to linguistic rules such as replacing “ly” in English to “ement” in French.

• Avoid using general words like “très” or “choses”.

• Try not to use the passive voice unless it’s totally required – this is quite rare in the French language.

(Figures – unitedlanguagegroup)

Tip!

If you learn Russian, it will be easier for you

to learn other Slavic languages like Polish,

Czech,Bulgarian or Croatian!

Russian words are similar to English!

• Проблема (problema)  – problem

• Кофе (kofi) – coffee

• Чизкейк (cheez-keyk) – cheesecake

• Музыка (moozika) – music

• Бургер (boorger) – burger

• Лимон (leemon) – lemon

English – Russian False Cognates

• Artist – Артист (actor)

• Decoration – Декорация  (setting)

• Cabinet – Кабинет (office, study)

• Magazine – Магазин (shop)

• Family – Фамилия (surname)

• Operator – Оператор (cameraman)

But some words are very different to English although they look/sound the same!

Top 10 Russian-Speaking Countries

Source: worldatlas (2018 figures)

Rank CountryPopulation of Russian Speakers (Est.)
1Russia137,500,000
2Kazakhstan16,910,000
3Ukraine8,330,000
4Kyrgyzstan2,500,000
5Israel1,500,000
6Belarus1,305,400
7United States854,955
8Latvia729,120
9Estonia399,840
10Lithuania143,600
11Moldova 94,133

FACT

There are only about 200,000 words in the Russian language.

Population vs. Internet Penetration

Russia Population:

143,964,709

Internet Users:

109,552,842

Penetration:

76.1%

As of Dec 2017. Source: Internet World Stats – www.internetworldstats.com

Russian Translation Tips

• Russian nouns have 12 variations depending on how they’re used in a sentence. There are also many Russian verbs whose endings depend on tense, gender, mood, and amount.

• Know your audience – Russian translates differently depending on whether you use formal or informal registers.

• Watch out for punctuation – Russian uses chevrons («») as quotation marks and the “ symbol isn’t used at all! Also, the dollar sign is placed after numbers!

• The average Russian word contains 7.2 symbols, while the average English word contains 5.2 symbols – Russian translations will usually grow by 20% in character count so always allow more space!

• Native Russian words hardly ever start with the letter “A” except for a few like азбука (alphabet) and авось (perhaps).

• The way you order words doesn’t really matter in the Russian language (in terms of grammar).

Are you looking for high quality Russian translation and localization services? Get in touch with Pangea! We’ll hook you up with one of our professional linguists who will provide you with accurate and reliable translations.